01 November 1997

AN UNKNOWN NEW UNIT TRUST administered by a formerly obscure Ruislip retail chemist has attracted up to £50m in funds from off-the-page advertising. Manek Growth Fund is the creation of Jayesh Manek, a Ugandan Asian who emigrated to the UK and built-up a successful chain of family-owned pharmacies. Mr Manek first entered the consciousness of the tight, closed little club of fund management in 1995 when he won a national newspaper fantasy investment competition. Ho, hum, just luck! But when he won the same competition for the second year running, the City sat up and took notice - in particular one fund manager who handed Manek £10m from his personal piggy-bank - now worth around £14.5m. The money raised to date is double the original estimates, confounding the City Jonahs who cavilled that the responsive ad campaign supporting the launch was ‘far too expensive’. Grudgingly conceded one analyst: 'I think Mr Manek has done quite well but it has been very heavily promoted - they have been throwing money at it.' Manek responds that the heavy spending was necessary because the new venture 'had just four weeks to establish a brand'.